Florida Team Leads Bassmaster Junior Bass Fishing Championship

Jeremy Monda and Will Boyd of the Quincy Junior Bassmasters in Florida claimed the first-day lead of the Bassmaster Junior National Championship with 10 pounds, 3 ounces on Carroll County’s 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake.

The young anglers met their expectations from the practice sessions when they broke the 10-pound barrier, which wasn’t easy to do under Tuesday’s challenging fishing conditions.

“We expected to catch 10 pounds or so based on their practice,” said Daniel Boyd, Will’s father and boat captain of the team. “The key was fishing where people weren’t. When there was a pocket open, we would fish it. When an offshore spot was vacant, we would fish it.”

With multiple days of practice and 54 teams on a 1,000-acre fishery, most two-angler teams tend to find the same fishing spots. Instead of fighting the crowds, the Florida team waited until other competitors left before moving in to fish the areas.

The two-day Bassmaster Junior Championship tournament is being held on Carroll County’s 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake for the fourth year in a row. A total of 54 teams are gathered from across the nation and from Canada to compete. Upon its creation, the lake became known for producing big bass, and practice wasn’t any different this week. With reports of a double-digit bass being caught in practice, teams knew they would have to catch a bigger fish to anchor their five-fish limit.

“If they can catch another 10 pounds and then catch a big one, I think they could take home the title,” Boyd said.

The standings are extremely tight as the Top 5 teams are within 1 pound of each other, and sixth through 28th places are separated by just 3 pounds.

A familiar angler is among the leaders — Rein Golubjatnikov, who finished second here last year while fishing solo, and his partner, Matthew Pitcher of New York’s Rochester Bassmasters, took the early BASSTrakk lead on Tuesday after catching a 5-1 largemouth just moments into the competition. They ended Day 1 in second, just 3 ounces off the pace.

Patience was crucial to their game plan as they fished pressured areas with other teams but were able to capitalize early in the day. During the practice period, the duo caught a 14-2 largemouth, the lake record, and less than a pound from the Tennessee state record of 15.2 pounds.

Vince Nekvinda and Cole Bailey of Eastern Iowa’s Junior Bassmasters brought a 7-pound largemouth to the scales, which was the biggest bass of the day. With only three fish in their bag, they remain in contention at fourth place with 9-6.

The full field will fish on Wednesday’s final day, after which the top-scoring team will be crowned Bassmaster Junior champions. Takeoff Wednesday is at 1 Reedy Creek Rd. in Huntingdon, Tenn., at 6 a.m. CT., and weigh-in will be at Billy Cary Memorial Park, 132 Jordan Ave. in Huntingdon, at 1:30 p.m.

The Junior Championship is open to qualifying teams of anglers in grades 2 through 8 who are members of B.A.S.S. Nation junior chapters. The annual event will be followed by the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Kentucky Lake out of nearby Paris, Tenn., Thursday through Saturday.